cohabitation agreement, DuPage County family law attorneyMore and more couples are choosing not to get married. It is possible that many people avoid marriage for the simple fact that so many marriages end in divorce. Other couples have personal reasons for putting off tying the knot. However, legal and financial issues can arise when an unmarried cohabitating couple breaks up. Unlike when a married couple splits, a cohabitating couple does not have legal protections which ensure that their property is fairly split.

Illinois does not recognize common law marriages so there are no laws which direct how an unmarried couple’s property and debts should be divided when they break up. One way to protect yourself when living with a partner who you are not married to is a cohabitation agreement.

What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is similar to a marriage agreement or prenuptial agreement in that it is a legally-enforceable contract that dictates how an unmarried couple’s property will be divided if they break up. A cohabitation agreement can be used to decide each party’s financial responsibilities in advance. More specifically, a cohabitation agreement can allow you to:

  • Distinguish property each party owned before moving in together from property purchased or earned during the relationship;
  • Describe any property received as a gift or inherited during the relationship;
  • Outline the couple’s shared expenses such as utilities and housing costs;
  • Decide how debts should be managed;
  • Make plans for how any future disputes will be resolved, such as through mediation; and
  • Decide in advance how property will be divided if the couple breaks up or if a party passes away.

Does Creating a Cohabitation Agreement Mean I Think the Relationship Will Fail?

Many people incorrectly assume that making contingency plans for how property and debt will be divided if their relationship ends means that they believe the relationship will not last. This is simply not true. Just as buying car insurance does not increase your chances of getting into a car accident, creating a cohabitation agreement does not increase your chances of breaking up. In fact, many people find that having an open, honest discussion about finances during the process of creating a cohabitation agreement actually helps prevent arguments and problems in the future.

Contact a Wheaton, Illinois Cohabitation Agreement Lawyer

To learn more about how a cohabitation agreement can benefit you and your family, contact an experienced DuPage Countyfamily law attorney from Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today.



Posted in Cohabitation, DIvision of Property | Tagged , , , , , |

divorce, DuPage County divorce lawyersIf you are considering filing for divorce or you have already decided to end your marriage, you are probably dealing with a litany of emotions. Some people feel a sense of relief when they decide to finally end a bad marriage. Others are overwhelmed by feelings of grief or regret. Whatever you are going through, understand that having a strong reaction to the end of your marriage is perfectly normal. Furthermore, there are several steps mental health experts say can help you deal with the barrage of feelings you will experience when you choose to get divorced.

Allow Yourself to Experience Grief and Other Negative Emotions Without Judgement

The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory is a ranking of the most stressful life events a person can experience. Among the ranking of life events are things like being fired from your job, the death of a close family member, pregnancy, and more. You may be surprised to know that getting divorced is actually the second-most stressful life event on this list. Only the death of a spouse is considered more stressful than divorce. This is just one illustration which proves that anyone going through a divorce deserves to give themselves a break. Do not worry about the feelings you are or are not having. Try to allow yourself to experience these emotions without judgment.

Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Health

More and more research is illuminating the direct connection between emotional well-being and physical health. Many studies show that something as simple as taking a walk or participating in a group exercise class can do wonders for mental health. Experts also encourage anyone going through a divorce to be cautious when using drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. It can be easy to fall into a dangerous pattern of overuse when your life is turned upside down by the breakdown of your marriage. Lastly, mental health experts encourage anyone coping with divorce to seek out the companionship of friends, family, and other supportive people. Many people find that joining a support group, church or other religious institution, or even a sports or hobby group is an effective way to cope with divorce.

Take the High Road

Divorce often brings out the worst in people. It can turn the spouse you once loved into someone you barely recognize. It can be very tempting to “fight fire with fire” when your soon-to-be-ex-spouse says or does something hurtful to you. However, retaliating against a hostile spouse will only escalate the situation. Taking the high road can help you rise above the drama and focus on your new life moving forward.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

If you are getting divorced and have further questions or concerns, contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney from Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC.  Schedule a personalized consultation by calling us today at 630-665-2500.



Posted in Divorce, DuPage County Divorce attorney | Tagged , , , , |

child support, DuPage County family law attorneyUnmarried or divorced parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children just as married parents do. Unfortunately, some children are forced to live without the monetary support they need when a parent does not pay his or her court-ordered child support. Illinois courts do not take child support nonpayment lightly. Stern laws have been enacted to enforce child support orders and punish parents who do not pay. If your child’s other parent is not paying child support, read on to learn about your options under Illinois law.

Child Support Is Only Enforceable When It Is Ordered by the Court

If you and your child’s other parent only had a casual agreement that they would pay you a certain amount of money in child support, it is going to be much more complicated for you to collect this payment. Illinois courts can only step in and enforce support obligations when there is a court-authorized, legally-enforceable child support order. Fortunately, there are several ways you can acquire this court order.

If there is a question as to the biological relationship between your child and the other parent, you may need to establish paternity before you can collect child support. This can be done via a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP) form or by filing for an administrative paternity order either with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services or your local family court. After legal parentage has been established, you will be able to pursue child support.

Child Support Enforcement in Illinois

If you need to file for child support or enforce a current support order, an experienced family law attorney can be a tremendously valuable asset. He or she can help you understand what steps need to be taken in order to apply for child support. You will need to petition the court to either establish child support for the first time or enforce an existing child support order. A parent who refuses to pay court-ordered child support can have his or her wages garnished, tax returns intercepted, a lien placed on his or her property, and can even be charged with a criminal offense in extreme cases.

Contact a Wheaton Family Law Attorney

If your child’s other parent is not paying his or her fair share of costs related to your child, a DuPage County child support lawyer can help. Contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC for sound legal assistance with a wide range of child support, paternity, and family-law related concerns. Schedule your confidential consultation today by calling 630-665-2500.



Posted in Child Support, Lake County family law attorney | Tagged , , , , , |